The [young, working-class] all-female focus group [in Ohio] began with a sobering assessment of the Obama economy. All of the women spoke gloomily about the prospect of paying off student loans, about what they believed to be Social Security’s likely insolvency and about their children’s schooling. A few of them bitterly opined that the Democrats care little about the working class but lavish the poor with federal aid. “You get more off welfare than you would at a minimum-wage job,” observed one of them. Another added, “And if you have a kid, you’re set up for life!”A similar panel with men didn't go much better:
About an hour into the session, Anderson walked up to a whiteboard and took out a magic marker. “I’m going to write down a word, and you guys free-associate with whatever comes to mind,” she said. The first word she wrote was “Democrat.”
“Young people,” one woman called out.
“Liberal,” another said. Followed by: “Diverse.” “Bill Clinton.”“Change.”“Open-minded.”“Spending.”“Handouts.”“Green.”“More science-based.”
When Anderson then wrote “Republican,” the outburst was immediate and vehement: “Corporate greed.”“Old.”“Middle-aged white men.” “Rich.” “Religious.” “Conservative.” “Hypocritical.” “Military retirees.” “Narrow-minded.” “Rigid.” “Not progressive.” “Polarizing.” “Stuck in their ways.” “Farmers.”
None of them expressed great enthusiasm for Obama. But their depiction of Republicans was even more lacerating than the women’s had been. “Racist,” “out of touch” and “hateful” made the list — “and put ‘1950s’ on there too!” one called out.Holy crap! These focus group respondents hate Republicans more than we do at Daily Kos! Asked what would make them change their mind and be more open to Republicans, the respondents urged Republicans to drop social issues, to drop opposition to science, and be more willing to compromise—hilarious advice in the context of the Hagel filibuster.
Democrats need to do more to lock in this vote—show real fortitude in the battle against Wall Street excesses, for one. They have to prove they're on the side of working class Americans, not the one percent. But our team's challenge is nothing like theirs. The more Democrats take the fight to Wall Street, the happier our base. Witness Elizabeth Warren. But Republicans only infuriate their base by de-emphasizing abortion, gay marriage, opposition to science and brown people.
In other words, exactly counter to Democrats, what Republicans need to do to win is mutually exclusive with what the conservative base will allow them to do.
After years of demonizing the "other" and winning elections on racial and gay bigotry, this is nothing short of remarkable.